A survey carried out by the Central Statistics Office shows that almost 40% of Irish businesses moved some of their activities abroad in the five years from 2001 to 2006.

The CSO says the 38% level is higher than that reported by other European countries which have conducted similar surveys. More than 600 businesses took part.

The level of what the CSO terms 'international sourcing' was highest in the manufacturing sector, where 57% of firms moved activity abroad. The transport, storage and communication sector recorded a figure of 54%.

Of the companies engaged in moving business abroad, 23% said jobs were lost as a result, with 15% saying high skilled jobs were lost. But 15% of firms said jobs were added as a result of international sourcing of business. The EU 15 countries were the most popular destination for such activity.

A third of companies which had moved activity abroad said they planned to increase the level of international sourcing in the three years from 2007 to 2009.